Montreal 2014: A tip of the chapeau

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Salut to les bénévoles at the STOH

Elizabeth Anderson – with a cool Sweeting behind

Elizabeth Anderson – with a cool Val Sweeting in behind

By Sam Corea

MONTREAL – Having volunteered for many years at the Vancouver Curling Club, I know that any successful event – from the club level to national championships to the Olympic Games – rely on the services of dedicated volunteers. Here at the 2014 Canadian women's championship in Montreal, 400 volunteers with manteaux bleus (blue jackets) have fulfilled various roles at the Maurice Richard Arena.

Many of the volunteers have come from local curling clubs.

“We have a great friendship in curling and social interaction,” said Elizabeth Anderson, a curler from the Rosemere CC near Montreal. She’s been helping to look after the media’s needs at the event. “The media room is fabulous. It’s kind of like bees to a hive.”

And she’s enjoyed being in the centre of the action. “I think that sitting on the media bench and being able to see four sheets of ice was the best seat in the house. I will always remember it. It was very fulfilling as a volunteer job.”

She hopes that hosting the STOH in Montreal will help grow the sport her province. “Just to be able to put a face on curling and what it’s like and the friendships involved. I think that will help the sport in Quebec.”

For those who haven’t volunteered for a sport event, Anderson highly recommends it. “You can be in a totally different environment and be able to enjoy it as well.”

Stef Lawton gets it together – like a champion!

Stef Lawton gets it together – like a champion!

On Saturday afternoon, after the 3-4 Page playoff game, Anderson performed one of her media volunteer duties and it was a tricky one. She had to escort an emotional Saskatchewan skip Stefanie Lawton to the media scrum area for comment on her loss to Alberta’s Val Sweeting.

That's always a tough job for both the volunteer and the athlete. The volunteer – who might have no formal media relations training – can see obvious distress on the face of the athlete, but the job needs to get done. The athlete, in most cases, hasn't had much time – if any – to process sudden elimination from the playoffs.

“Disappointed, disappointed,” said Lawton, who missed two key draws during the game. “We will come out tomorrow and play for that bronze medal, because we would be very proud to win that one.”

Sweeting went on to beat Manitoba’s Chelsea Carey in a tight Saturday night semi, meaning the scrappy Edmontonians will take on defending champions Team Canada, skipped by Ottawa's Rachel Homan, in Sunday's grand finale.

[Photos by Sam Corea – click on images to increase viewing size]